Last Saturday, my husband went to the doctor to check if he had Lyme disease. He had all the classic symptoms- chills, sweats, aches, exhaustion plus a rash. She agreed that he probably had it and decided to check his heart. Next thing we knew, we were in the ER and they were hooking him up to all the monitors and paraphernalia because he had “heart block”. His heart rate was less than half of what it was supposed to be.
It turns out that this is what those nasty little ticks can do. While he sat in his hospital bed waiting for the antibiotics to kick in, there was talk of temporary pacemakers and other scary things. My daughter and I hovered anxiously, thankful that we had a doctor who recognized what was happening and that we were in a hospital with a reputation for being expert in Lyme disease and cardiac treatment. The nurses and doctors were incredible – caring, experienced, funny and right there on it every minute. And the antibiotics worked, so he’s going to be fine. There was no damage to his heart, and after a month of doxycycline, he will be back to normal.
When the infectious disease specialist learned we had horses, he said that he didn’t know anyone who has horses who hasn’t had Lyme disease. I haven’t. My daughter hasn’t had it. But our puppy, Stella, has it now too, and both horses have had it. I’ve become a zealot about bug spray. I even bought a bottle with Deet for those occasions when we have to go out in the woods. For every day use, I’m favoring the non-toxic stuff --Repel with lemon-eucalyptus and Buzz Away Extreme. The doctor recommends soaking our clothes in Permythrin but I don't think I can wear something that kills cats if they come near it. Apparently, the ticks are worse this summer because we had such a mild winter. It makes me nervous now each time I go outdoors, which is really depressing since I love being outdoors.
I decided that I just have to be extra vigilant, but not limit myself from living the way that I usually do. Bad enough that I still have this heavy brace on my right arm and can’t do the normal things in the barn or the garden. My daughter is laboring hard over her summer vacation, literally being my right hand. She’s being a really good kid about it, with only occasional complaints when I throw too much at her at once. I’m a person who never stops moving from the minute I get out of bed so I have to be careful not to become a control freak. “Back off, Robo Mom!” she tells me.
Not the summer that we had hoped to have, but at least we’re all safe and sound here at home together again. Our friends and neighbors have been so great, helping with the horses and mowing our lawn and bringing us delicious dinners. It certainly makes us appreciate the little things we do for each other. I think that’s probably the most important lesson in all this.